WI: Why are there red rectangles painted on some Madison streets?

June 12, 2024
The blocks of red road paint designate future Bus Rapid Transit lanes.

Jun. 6—If you've driven in Madison recently, you've likely seen the blocks of red road paint designating future Bus Rapid Transit lanes. But why are the colored patches so intermittent?

The short answer, according to Metro capital projects manager Mike Cechvala: The lanes aren't done yet, and paint isn't cheap.

When they're completed, the lanes will be offset by heavy white and red lines and contain the words "BUS ONLY." The full length of the lanes aren't being painted because vehicles will be allowed in the lanes if they're turning left, Cechvala said. Also, the paint being used, known as methyl methacrylate, or MMA, is expensive and will occasionally need to be reapplied.

"To reduce costs, we've only applied the full-width red colorization near intersections where many drivers are making decisions on which lane to use," he said. "In between intersections, we will just have a solid white line, and a solid red line where we don't have full-width colorization."

The city also plans to install overhead and ground signs alerting motorists to the bus-only lanes, Cechvala said. Most will be bus-only around the clock, he said, with a few exceptions.

While the bus-only lane on East Washington Avenue will start a couple blocks from the Capitol Square, the section between about Milwaukee Street and Wright Street will be open to other traffic during rush hour, as will the section of bus lane on Johnson Street between about Bassett Street and State Street.

When the lane on Johnson isn't restricted to buses only, parking will be allowed there and will be indicated by signs, Cechvala said.


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